How to draw attention to wild animals being senselessly killed? Switching barbaric trophy heads for awesome wooden replicas is a good start…
We’ve all been there. Lounging on an antique Chesterfield sofa in a dusty old study, surrounded by leather-bound books and staring in awe at the head of a dead animal mounted proudly above the roaring fireplace. As he pours another brandy, the owner of said study regales his captivated guests with the tale of how this magnificent creature’s cranium came to occupy a prime spot on his wall (clue: he shot it several times with a big gun).
What’s that – you haven’t been there? Us neither, actually. And thanks to Respectful Animal Trophies, you might never have to. The wacky, wildlife-preserving concept from Hu2 Design and international charity The Born Free Foundation is redefining a terrible tradition with a series of handcrafted, wooden replicas of real-life animal counterparts.
The range of ‘trophies’ (including an elephant, rhino, tiger, lion, moose and sailfish) have been created by French artist and designer Antoine Tes-Ted, also the founder and creative director of Hu2. The idea came about as a way to raise awareness of trophy hunting, says Ebba Nyberg, social media and marketing manager at Hu2:
“We wanted to raise awareness of trophy hunting, which to us is just the epitome of insanity. We are a wall art business at our core, so when Antoine Tes-Ted came up with the Respectful Animal Trophies idea – art belongs on walls, animals belong in nature – it was a concept that we could really relate to.”
“Killing wild animals, stuffing their heads with foam and putting them on their wall in the name of ‘art’ just seems crazy”
“The size and scale of the trophies conveys the real grandeur of these animals directly into people’s homes,” Nyberg continues, “in a way they might not be able to appreciate from images online or in magazines. Whatever the justification we hear for killing these magnificent animals, at the end of the day it’s just completely wrong to be killing for sport; anything that can highlight the problem is worth doing.”
Since launching Respectful Animal Trophies, “the response has been amazing,” Nyberg says. “It’s for each person to decide whether [the trophies] are important or not, but to us – killing wild animals, stuffing their heads with foam and putting them on their wall in the name of ‘art’ just seems crazy, given the challenges we face to protect the environment. The idea of the trophies is probably as important as the physical product itself.”
It’s not just saving the animals that Hu2 is passionate about, though. The company also designs wall signs, T-shirts, art prints and wall decals (vinyl stickers), all carrying the message that saving the environment is, well, generally a good thing.
The wall decals, in particular, are meant to provide “little nudges” to encourage individuals to live with sustainability in mind – without telling people what to do, of course. “Most people see the sense in protecting the environment by using fewer natural resources,” says Nyberg. “They just need practical methods of doing so, in a way that puts their actions – and the positive effect individuals can have – into context.
“We’ve been making our eco-range of wall decals for nearly ten years now. All those little nudges sitting around plugs and sockets must have added up to some kind of meaningful result by now. Our aims are to further increase awareness about eco-social topics, spread our message, and nudge people into thinking about what they can do, practically, to improve our interactions with the environment.”
Can design with purpose really be effective in creating actual change in the world? Hu2 thinks so, Nyberg says: “Design is our only hope for a better, fairer world. Whether it’s the design of new products and services that are efficient and fairer, through to the design of materials that are easier to reuse and recycle, design is everywhere. If just one product designer is inspired by us and our message, then we’ve helped in the process of switching to a world where real, practical changes for the better are focused on.”